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June 13, 2006 > Summer/Travel Safety article

Summer/Travel Safety article

Here Comes Summer. Get Ready to Stay Safe and Healthy.

California's bright blue skies and golden hills are a definite sign - summer is on the way. You and your family may be planning outdoor activities like picnicking, hiking or camping. Or, perhaps you'll travel to another part of the world. No matter what your summer plans include, health and safety should be an important part of your preparations.

Have fun in the sun
For many, summertime means spending time in the sun. Be sure to avoid sunburn and damage to your skin by wearing a sun screen with an SPF of 30 or higher and put it on at least half an hour before going outdoors. Remember, sun screen washes off. So, don't forget to re-apply it after swimming or playing in the water.

"We're starting to see a lot of injuries related to summertime activities," reports Barbara Kostick, M.D., a family practice physician who practices in Fremont and is on the medical staff of Washington Hospital. "To truly enjoy your summer, use appropriate protection against insect bites and get in shape before getting active, so you're less likely to get injured."

Stay cool
As the weather heats up and you spend more time outdoors, be careful to avoid heat-related illness, warns the American Red Cross. Through perspiration and evaporation, your body naturally keeps you cool. However, if your body doesn't stay cool enough, you may become the victim of heat exhaustion or even heat stroke, which can be life threatening. Babies and seniors are the most susceptible to this condition. When heat is extreme, here are some ways to help avoid heat-related illness:

  • Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing and use a hat or umbrella.
  • Drink water continuously, even if you don't feel thirsty. Avoid alcohol and caffeine.
  • Try not to perform any strenuous activity, or do it during the coolest part of the day. Take regular breaks in a cool place.
  • Eat small meals more often and cut back on the amount of protein you include.
  • Don't use salt tablets unless directed by your physician.

Take precautions before you take off
If you're traveling this summer, planning ahead is absolutely essential. Make sure your immunizations are up to date and check to see if you need any additional shots to enter your destination country.
"Don't pack your medications," recommends Dr. Kostick. "Carry them onboard with you, in case your luggage is lost or stolen. Also, find out if you need a list of the medications you take signed by your doctor. Some countries are now requiring this in order to allow people to bring medicines with them."
While traveling, follow these additional safety tips from the Centers for Disease Control:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand gel.
  • Drink only boiled or bottled water or carbonated drinks from sources you trust.
  • Eat only fully-cooked food or fruits and vegetables you have peeled.
  • Avoid poultry farms, bird markets and other places where live poultry is raised or kept.
  • If you are visiting an area where there is a risk for malaria, take malaria prevention medication as directed before, during and after your trip.

For more tips on summer safety, tune into InHealth, a Washington Hospital Channel on Comcast Channel 78.  The "Healthy Travels" program offers travel tips to keep in mind before you head off on your next trip. The show includes segments on sun burn prevention, immunizations and the West Nile Virus. The InHealth program schedule is published weekly in the Tri-City Voice and posted on Washington Hospital's website at

For more tips on summer safety, visit the web site of the American Red Cross at or the web site of the Centers for Disease Control at



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